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Summer — and TV — good for magic on the Strip

The home stretch of summer preserves some uniquely Las Vegas traditions for magicians and the TV exposure that helps them.

Especially the one in the green dragon costume.

Piff the Magic Dragon (John van der Put) sailed to the live competition of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” after Neil Patrick Harris, who makes no secret of his fondness for magic, used his “golden buzzer” to send the comic magician straight to the next round of competition at Radio City Music Hall starting Tuesday, bypassing the rest of the preliminaries.

In the long term, at least, that’s good news for “X Comedy — Uncensored Fun” at the Flamingo. Producer Angela Stabile says Piff will return to the show Sept. 3, so he would be flying back and forth to New York until the “Talent” finale Sept. 16 if he goes the distance.

But next week, he goes straight from “Talent” to the Edinburgh Fringe festival to do the long version of his act, “Breakfast at Piffany’s,” Friday through Aug. 29. Piff is being spelled in “X Comedy” by the funny juggling dude comedian Todd Paul, so audiences are still getting a strong variety show.

If Piff continues his strong “Talent” showing, it seems he would have a good chance of selling “Piffany’s” here as well. In fact, if Stabile and husband Matt end up producing it at the Flamingo, we could have two “Talent” magicians right next door to each other. Last year’s winner, Mat Franco, launched his resident show last week at The Linq.

Piff, along with Las Vegas-based “Talent” alumni Murray SawChuck, Nathan Burton and Jarrett & Raja also are popping up on “Masters of Illusion,” the CW’s noncompetition magic performance show.

An even dozen of the 38 “Masters” are in fact Las Vegas-based, although about half of them perform out of the market instead of on the Strip. “Masters” is doing surprisingly well, given the modest expectations of a Friday nighttime slot on the CW.

And it’s not a big secret of how Piff can be on two shows at once. All the magicians filmed their “Masters” segments in a Hollywood studio in a two-day stretch. Some performed for as much as an hour, letting the producers cut and paste the segments, so you will still see more of Murray, Burton and Tommy Wind, along with Las Vegas-based Greg Gleason, Jeff McBride, Jason Andrews, Mark Bennick, Fielding West, Aaron Radatz and Circe Martinez. …

The next stop for magician Dirk Arthur sounds like a bit of a good news/bad news scenario. After the closure of the Riviera put him out of business in May, Arthur will reopen as a 4 p.m. show in the big Elvis showroom at the Westgate Las Vegas.

The catch? The magician — the last in Las Vegas to use exotic animals — doesn’t open until Aug. 22, only a couple of days before schools start again in Las Vegas and elsewhere, so he will miss the family season for magic.

It’s been hard to pry information out of the Westgate on the fate of its partnership with Graceland on Elvis-themed projects. An exhibit of Elvis memorabilia continues, but the showroom has been dark since late May, when the first in a planned series of Elvis tribute shows underperformed. …

The Jabbawockeez already wear masks, so they will fit right into “Halloween Horror Nights” at Universal Studios Hollywood starting Sept. 18.

It’s an “in-between” gig for the Las Vegas-based dance troupe, which closes its resident show at Luxor on Aug. 30 and reopens at the MGM Grand in the fall, possibly even overlapping the last week or two of the California theme park gig, which wraps up Nov. 1.

The break-dancing troupe’s “PRiSM” show is part of the cross-property musical chairs set into motion by MGM Resorts announcing it will build a 5,000-seat concert hall at the Monte Carlo. …

Finally, hope this one is as funny for you as it was for me. On Aug. 20, impressionist Gordie Brown will invite friends, family and media to celebrate his 1,740th show at the Golden Nugget.

“We just wanted an excuse to party,” Brown confesses in a news release.

Last year, I did a column about show producers always sending out releases touting this or that number of shows, usually a big round figure.

Singling out such a specific one is an inside joke, but does help make us remember Brown’s fortitude in sticking it out six years on Fremont Street, a place where few ticketed acts have lasted long competing with the street carnival outside.

Read more from Mike Weatherford at bestoflasvegas.com. Contact him at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com. Follow him at @Mikeweatherford.

 

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